Belfast Telegraph

New handbag collection lifts AllSaints sales and profits

Fashion retailer AllSaints has bolstered sales and profits as it reaped the rewards of overseas expansion and the success of a new handbag collection.

The private equity owned firm said total sales rose 9% to £252.5 million in the year to the end of January, as it launched 23 new stores internationally, including new sites in the US, South Korea and Taiwan.

Earnings before exceptional items jumped 18% to £28.5 million, with growth partly offset by the cost of opening new stores.

AllSaints said the launch of the Capital Collection - a women's bag range produced in partnership with Simone - was already making a double-digit contribution to revenue in some markets.

Chief executive William Kim said the decision to broaden its product range and push into new international markets had delivered strong growth.

"Asia continues to be a massive opportunity for us," he added.

"We recently launched the brand in Japan, which becomes our third directly-operated country in Asia, and following our highly successful launches in Korea and Taiwan we now anticipate that non-American international markets will account for around one third of our total revenue by 2020.

"Meanwhile, North America continues to be our biggest international market, and we are also thrilled with the start to our partnership in the Middle East with Majid Al Futtaim."

AllSaints said the growth boost came despite an "uncertain backdrop" in some markets where currency weakness impacted the number of tourists spending money.

On sterling's collapse since the Brexit vote, Mr Kim said the way the retailer was structured helped protect it from currency fluctuations.

As an example, he said US sales were used to do Asian business in US dollars, while sales in euro were used to pay its Portuguese partners in Porto, creating a "natural hedge".

He also hinted that the retailer was likely to steer away from any hefty UK price hikes following the plunge in the value of the pound.

He said when the Russian rouble halved last year there was a "tremendous mark up in pricing" from the wider industry, while AllSaints "sat and assessed and didn't adjust pricing" except for two "minor" changes.

The retailer said it was also in talks with three to four different parties over licensing deals which could lead to new product ranges.

AllSaints UK sales grew 7.4% to £144.3 million in the year to January 30, while international sales rose 12% to £108.2 million.

The firm, which has seen a fourfold increase in its Asian business, said more than 40% of its total sales now came from abroad.

Digital sales also picked up by a third throughout the year to £47.3 million, compared to £35.6 million the year before.

All Saints was created in 1994 and opened its first stand-alone store in London in 1997. It was bought by Lion Capital in 2011.

The retailer employs around 3,200 staff and has 208 stores in 18 countries.